National monitoring system

Each year, we collect information from local authorities on their implementation of the RMA through the National monitoring system. This information is used to improve policy and practice at the national and local level.

About the National Monitoring System

Why we have a National Monitoring System

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) is the main piece of legislation guiding the management of New Zealand’s environment. Most of the everyday decision-making under the Act is delegated to local authorities (ie, territorial authorities and regional councils). 

Each year, we collect information from local authorities on their implementation of the RMA through the National Monitoring System (NMS). This information is used to improve policy and practice at the national and local level. 

What the National Monitoring System is

The NMS is a spreadsheet that councils fill in annually and submit to the Ministry. 

Councils are asked to provide detailed information on:

  • every plan or policy statement worked on 
  • every resource consent issued
  • other functions, tools and processes that councils are responsible for under the RMA. 

Most of the questions asked in the NMS are the same from year to year. Some are added or dropped as information requirements change. We have compiled and published this information as a national dataset for each financial year since 2014/15.    

How National Monitoring System data is used

NMS data is used to:

  • inform the development of resource management policy and practice by national and local government 
  • confirm local authorities are fulfilling their roles and responsibilities under the RMA
  • promote examples of RMA implementation best practice 
  • measure the success of RMA reforms
  • test common perceptions of the performance of the RMA system.

The NMS built upon and replaced the biennial RMA Survey of Local Authorities, which ran from 1996/97 to 2012/13. 

For more detailed information on the NMS, including the general structure and content, read the discussion document from when the NMS was proposed.

National Monitoring System for the Resource Management Act 1991 – A proposal for discussion

Resource Consents Explorer: Council implementation of the Resource Management Act

Access and explore data on resource consent applications processed by councils from 2014/15 to 2018/19. 

Launch the Resource consents explorer

Summary tables: Council implementation of the Resource Management Act

Access data on council implementation of the Resource Management Act 1991 on key topics. The data is from the National Monitoring System.

Download data from all councils on all topics

Search by council and topic below

Complete datasets: Council implementation of the Resource Management Act

Download the complete data for 2014/15 to 2018/19 on council implementation of the Resource Management Act 1991. The data is from the National Monitoring System.

Patterns in Resource Management Act implementation: National Monitoring System data 2014/15 to 2019/20

This report highlights patterns in council’s implementation of the Resource Management Act 1991 over the past six years. It identifies patterns in RMA implementation, which may be used to inform the development of policy or practice. This report has been released in addition to the 2019/20 dataset, to provide an easily understood picture for the wider community.

Read the report

Key patterns in 2019/20

  • Councils are largely processing consents within statutory timeframes – the percentage of consents processed in time has increased in 2019/20.
  • More than 99 percent of consents are granted by councils.
  • The percent of consents notified has slightly declined.
  • Councils are increasing their use of section 92 or section 37 while processing consents.
  • Iwi planning documents continue to be produced and recognised by councils.
  • More councils are providing budget to support iwi and hapū participating in RMA plan development.
  • Councils continue to undertake their compliance, monitoring, and enforcement functions.
  • The number of enforcement actions taken by local authorities each year is relatively consistent.

Patterns and trends in council implementation of the Resource Management Act 1991 from 2014/15 to 2018/19. Data is from the National Monitoring System.

The report: Trends in RMA implementation - National Monitoring System 2014/15 to 2018/19 highlights patterns and trends in implementation of the Resource Management Act by councils over the past five years. The purpose of the report is to identify areas for improvement in policy or practice.

Read the report

Key trends from 2018/19

  • Resource consent applications are processed within time limits prescribed in the RMA 82 per cent of the time. This is the fourth consecutive year that this rate has fallen.
  • Both resource consent processing times and application fees are increasing over time.
  • A section 37 time extension is applied to almost a third (31 per cent) of resource consent applications. This rate is increasing over time.
  • Local authorities are required to decide plan changes within two years of notification. All 81 plan changes decided in the past two years met this requirement.
  • About four in five councils (78 per cent) provide either budgetary or in-kind support for iwi/hapū participation in resource management.
  • Monitoring and enforcement staffing levels have increased 60 per cent over the past two years. This increase has occurred across all council types.

Before the NMS - the RMA Survey of Local Authorities

Patterns and trends in council implementation of the Resource Management Act 1991 from 1996/17 to 2012/13. Data is from the RMA Survey of Local Authorities. 

Reporting from the RMA Survey of Local Authorities

About the RMA Survey of Local Authorities

Between 1995 and 2014, 11 national surveys monitored local government implementation of the RMA. 

The survey was our principal source of information about RMA processes. It helped us monitor the implementation and operation of the RMA. This included reviewing how local authorities implemented both the RMA and recommended good practices. 

The survey did not measure the performance of the RMA in delivering better environmental outcomes. Nor did it measure how well individual councils delivered these outcomes. This occurs through state of the environment monitoring and reporting at both the national and local level.

Data councils need to provide for the National Monitoring System

Data councils are required to provide on their implementation of the Resource Management Act 1991.

We ask local authorities to populate the NMS Excel template for 2019/20 (see below) and email it to us at nms@mfe.govt.nz by the submission due date of 30 November 2020.

The guidance document explains how to populate the Excel template. 

If you have any questions email nms@mfe.govt.nz or phone 022 517 3280.

Information requirements and Excel template

2021/22

NMS data for 2021/21 should be submitted by 31 August 2022.

2020/21 

NMS data for 2020/21 should be submitted by 31 August 2021.  

2019/20 

NMS data for 2019/20 should be submitted by 30 November 2020.  

2018/19 

NMS 2018/19 was due on 31 August 2019.

Previous information requirements